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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thankful for Puppy Hachi

Hachi is making all of us have more fun. He's a puppy, and he loves to play. He's brought so much laughter to our home! We are thankful.

He also loves to cuddle. I have taken more naps since he arrived than in the past few years combined. He settles into my lap and falls asleep. He's so sweet and loving that I fall asleep too.

He loves contact with us or with dogs. He also loves giving kisses. Shyla was the recipient of this one.

The other night he wedged himself next to Shyla, and he fell asleep in a crazy position.

I thought that you might enjoy another play/training video. In this one, I show more playing and I'm not strictly "shaping" his behavior with a clicker. Rather, I'm having him follow my hand in a "moving hand touch" to lead him through spins and weaves around my legs.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - All Three

The Boys

The Supermodel

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Puppy Cuteness

Little Hachi is a constant source of smiles in our house right now. After we took the tunnel out of storage (see photo below), we haven't been able to put it away because Hachi adores it so much. He does sprints around the living room that often include trips through the tunnel!

He appreciates every last toy that we have out. Our living room seems to be filled with toys right now, and we smile about it.

I have been having a blast training him. He is our first tiny puppy since I became confident with many aspects of positive training. It is an eye opener to see how much a tiny puppy can learn, as long as I don't overwhelm him.

Maybe I'll teach him a pose like this someday!
I made a video of some of cute behavior he's done during training. I've been using a clicker and treats to teach him to touch his nose to the end of a pointer. With the method that I was using ("shaping"), I didn't try to show him what to do. Rather, I relied on his puppy curiosity to lead him to sniff the end of the pointer, and I clicked/treated him for touching his nose to it. I definitely let the session go on too long because he got really silly about it. That's the first clip of the video.

The second clip is a continuation of something that I started very early, when he was a bit over 8 weeks old. I taught him that he could earn treats by making eye contact with me. I've gradually made that game more difficult so that he lies in a down, and I put treats where he can see them. In this video, I used CHEESE as his pile of treats to earn, which he LOVES. He went a little crazy over the sight of a pile of cheese on the ground in front of him. It is incredible to me that, without any prompting by me, he remembers how to earn the cheese.

The third clip is a typical bout of play among the three dogs. Enjoy the video.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Feeling Good Enough to Play with our Puppy

Thank you so much for all of the warm and supportive comments yesterday. R seems to feel much better after restarting his antibiotics. It is amazing how fast antibiotics turn around a dog's UTI. R will have tests this week so we can find out what caused a second infection so soon.

And, he's back to playing with his little brother. It seems as if our dogs have been playing for many hours every day. To check whether R wants to continue to play, I sometimes coral Hachi and take him away from R. R almost always follows us, trying to engage Hachi to play some more. That's my answer - R actively wants to play. He's not unwillingly badgered into it by Hachi.

I absolutely adore seeing R's play face and also seeing how Hachi knows that it's not serious.

Getting ready for his final move (and keeping his one eye on Hachi)...

And he roared, blowing Hachi's ears back!
I am so very glad that R is feeling better. Now, I'm wishing for the news that nothing serious is going on inside him.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - Need Good Vibes

Our Black Dog is back at the emergency hospital tonight (Saturday night). I had planned to make a really fun post but my heart isn't in it.
R and Hachi are truly becoming wonderful friends

He finished his antibiotics for a UTI and kidney stone a couple of days ago. A re-test yesterday showed that the infection had probably cleared up. But, here we are again, with him unable to urinate.
The Labraduo are teaching Hachi all sorts of lessons

We were warned that a UTI in a male dog of R's age can mean something very bad is going on inside him. A relapse increases the odds of that. That's why I feel so off-kilter tonight.
They let the little guy feel like he's winning

I feel fairly confident that we can get him feeling okay again, at least temporarily, with similar drugs as last time. But, the real question is, why is he getting these infections/stones?
Look at those eyes...
It seems so recent that R was the puppy in our photos. I am so glad that he is helping to raise Hachi. But, I'm greedy - I want many more years with R.

I am hoping that this is nothing but a simple relapse.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Joyful Sights!

I saw two amazing sights in one day.

First, Shyla can fly, even when her takeoff pad is covered in a foot of wind-packed snow and when her little brother has been wearing her out with non-stop play! She is, hands down, the most amazing and graceful athlete of any dog I've ever known. She knows no fear when it comes to athletic feats.
She was at least 3' off the ground, for no particular reason except joy.

Second, on that same day, we had a sublime sunrise. The clouds started to light up when the world was mostly dark. I had to wait for the world to get a little brighter before it was safe to fly for a view from the sky.
That kind of long cloud means that there is wind aloft. So, I had to stay low and safe. Even with precautions, the drone encountered a bit of turbulence but I was still able to record some video.

Nature Friday - The Reality of Winter in an Elk Herd

I have a trail camera next to a pond that our local elk herd visits regularly throughout the autumn, winter, and spring. It captured a series of videos that truly demonstrate how winter affects the herd.

This elk herds spends the summers up very high in alpine meadows and returns to lower elevation for the autumn. When they first come back, the herd crackles with energy. The large bulls bugle regularly, as they round up cows into harems for mating season. Do you see the bull in this photo?

As fall slides into winter, the ponds ice over, and the elk herd is noticeably calmer. The bulls no longer bugle. However, the herd is not silent. The calves frequently call for their moms, making high pitched sounds. Some elk forget to be careful about the still thin ice on ponds and fall through into the water. The pond with my trail camera isn't deep so they easily escape, receiving an important reminder without dire consequences.

In the dead of winter, the tone of the elk herd is deadly serious. No one is wasting energy vocalizing as they ride out a snow storm complete with high winds. Rather, they focus on eating the dead and dry foliage so that they have the calories to survive the cold. Their coats are so thick that snow accumulates on them rather than being melted by their body heat.

It's not easy being an elk in winter. Check out the trail cam video that can give a view from inside or very close to an elk herd that you can never see/hear if you're observing the elk in person.

Many thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday Blog Hop.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Daily Dose of Puppy Cuteness

We are still enjoying our sweet puppy, and so is R! We are so thankful for the dose of smiles that Hachi brings us every day.

Hachi and R have become best friends very fast!

I have been teaching Hachi new things. He's "learning how to learn" at warp speed. I've been working on "impulse control" games with him, where he has to resist the urge to pounce on the jackpot of treats and do something else to earn them. In one of the games that we've been playing, he must make eye contact with me to earn a treat. I hold a handful of treats in front of him, either in a closed hand or an open hand depending whether he has the self control to have the treats in his view. He needs to look away from my hand to make eye contact with me to get a treat. That's the first segment in the video that I have below.

The second part of the video is Hachi meeting a treat dispensing toy called a "Bob-a-lot". It is super fun to watch him experiment to figure out how to get the toy to give him treats. He even tries the silly approach of barking at it.

I hope that you enjoy watching the Hachi cuteness as much as I do!

Thank you to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Super Blood Wolf Moon

Our Sunday evening was all about the moon. We hiked out into the forest behind our house, hoping to see it rise. It was a bit cloudier than we hoped but the clouds made the moon look eerie as it rose.

Then, we headed back inside, enjoying dinner with some friends. Before we knew it, the lunar eclipse was just about to start. As you can see from the faint halo around the moon, there was still a lot moisture in the air and thin clouds.

The first half of the eclipse was beautiful but the view was hampered a bit by clouds. Then, when the moon was in total eclipse, the clouds started to clear. The moon was dark enough that stars were even visible!

Then, before we knew it, one side of the moon started to light up as our shadow on it started to shift.
As we watched the eclipse, we had the sense that coyotes were around. We were in the midst of a meadow that they love. I wished that they would howl... but they didn't.

This is my favorite photo of a coyote that I've ever taken. He was standing in a shaft of sunlight early one morning. The world around him was still dark but he was lit up by the incredible warm sunlight.
Coyotes are the closest wild relatives to wolves that we have around here. That's why they were on my mind during the Super Blood Wolf Moon. What a name!

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Local Puppy Bowl!

I thought that you might enjoy seeing a video of Hachi playing with other puppies. We've been attending several puppy socialization classes each week, giving Hachi the chance to play with puppies his own age.

These puppy socialization classes are thought to be really important, even for puppies who have adult dogs at home who like to play with them. Adult dogs grant special "puppy license" to be wild and don't always speak up when the puppy is too rough. Other puppies are far more likely to make it clear when a puppy is playing too rough.

Besides that, it's just plain fun! Enjoy the video of Hachi in his classes and then a clip with Shyla.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - And a Magical Big Brother

I am wonderfully happy with our big dogs' behavior with Hachi. They seem to trade off as to who babysits him.  Shyla had Saturday off from playing with Hachi, and R did yeoman's work.

Actually R seemed to like it.

R has a very different play style than Shyla does. Shyla likes to play with toys while R likes to wrestle.

And he likes to bare his teeth!

I just love Hachi's facial expressions before he "strikes" R.

During wrestling breaks, Hachi played in his tunnel. He adores it! He does laps around the living room that include sprints through the tunnel.
Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Magical Shyla as a Big Sister

Not too long ago, this girl was our puppy. We've traveled a long way since then... but the love remains so very strong.

She's my partner in heading out into the winter cold at sunrise. I think that she loves it like I do, at least partly because it's our special thing that we do together.

I've seen a whole new side of Shyla since Hachi joined us. She really loves playing with him, and she has incredible patience with him.

I don't really know what he did to make his ear fly in the air in this one but Shyla was still being a kind older sister.

Seeing her be such a wonderful big sister has made me love her even more.
She is magical.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Floating in the Sky...

You may remember that we spent an extended time in the Utah Desert at the end of October and start of November. In light of our new puppy, it's been blowing my mind to know that he had been born at that time... but we didn't even know it. We had our fabulous Labraduo without having any idea that Hachi was headed our way!

His mom is mostly chocolate Lab, and she gave birth to Hachi and his siblings out on the streets somewhere in Texas. They were still homeless while we were soaking up the sun in Utah. Thank goodness for all of the generous people who saved his mom's life and the life of her puppies. Thanks to those people, our lives intersected with Hachi's weeks later.

In the middle of our trip, we spent time at the most remote place of this trip. We were camped in a broad valley surrounded by unusual geological structures.

These structures made a eye-catching views from our camp.

In the next photo, you can barely see our LabMobile. The shadows  cast by the stunning walls looked like fingers reaching toward the Labmobile. They had almost reached our camp at 3PM in the afternoon.

At night in the desert, I love to photograph the stars from the van, with the distinctive geology painting an incredible picture at the horizon. I made those photos into a time lapse video showing the movement of the starts in the sky.

Many thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the blog hop!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thankful Thursday - Our Puppy and Our Big Dogs!

Hachi is changing so fast that it makes my head spin. I thought that you might like to see a bit of him in action, both during training and play.

I made a video to share with you. In the first part of the video, I show you how Hachi used to "demand bark and growl" because he wanted to earn treats but he didn't know how. I think that all of his noise was simply frustration.

I decided to ignore all of his noises and to wait for him to make eye contact. I wanted him to start to learn to make eye contact when he wants something rather than doing all that other noisy stuff.

As you watch the first part of the video, imagine that the video camera is on the floor at Hachi's height, and I am standing behind it. Watch for him to flick his eyes upward - that is when he meets my eyes. I click and give him a treat every time he looks at my eyes. Then, I show you a few minutes later - look how fast he learned! And he's barely making any noise at all after he's figured out that he can get treats by making eye contact.

We are so grateful for almost everything about Hachi. Most of all today, we are thrilled to see R starting to really play with Hachi.

As I watched them starting to play for the first time, I realized that R cannot see Hachi very well. He'd open his jaws and bare his teeth but his aim wasn't very good for a play bite.

In response, Hachi laid down on his back, stayed still, and played from that position. I believe that our puppy was "self handicapping" like adult dogs usually do to help puppies not to be afraid of them. Somehow, Hachi knew that their roles needed to reverse for him to get the almost-blind R to play with him. It was wonderful to see.

It sometimes looked like R was blowing Hachi's ears back with his roars!

The two boys played and played. It was SO cool to see Hachi adapting to R's poor vision.
I think that our pack is very lucky to have such a special puppy join us!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Brothers at Play

R can look incredibly ferocious. Don't worry - he is the gentlest elder brother that you can imagine!